Wichita State Shockers

Shockers make rare rally

While it won't close the book on Wichita State's bullpen woes, consecutive days of scoreless relief work gave the Shockers some sunlight on a Saturday afternoon devoid of it.

After starter Tim Kelley was roughed up for six runs in four innings, relievers Chance Sossamon and Cobey Guy halted the San Jose State offense in WSU's 7-6 win at Eck Stadium.

It marked the first time that the Shockers (25-14) have erased a four-run deficit for a victory since March 2, 2009, against Brigham Young.

"That's just huge for everybody's confidence, not just the bullpen's confidence," said WSU designated hitter Cody Lassley, who finished with three hits. "If we have confidence in those guys to get outs late in the ballgames, that changes our demeanor and that helps us stay focus."

The Shockers entered Saturday without a win when trailing after the fourth inning. Whether it's been the offense not moving runners over or faulty relief work, the come-from-behind win was a decidedly foreign thing to the Shockers before Saturday.

"We've either been up big, or down big," senior right fielder Travis Bennett said. "When we're down, a lot of the guys lose focus and kind of give up."

That appeared to be the case again when Kelley was yanked from game after the fourth inning after allowing six earned runs, 12 baserunners and striking out none.

Meanwhile, San Jose State workhorse Blake McFarland protected the 6-2 lead through five innings, until WSU rallied in the sixth.

Chris O'Brien and Johnny Coy strung together hits and Bennett drove both home with a single through the middle of the infield. WSU tacked on another run with two outs when Tyler Grimes singled home Bennett.

Another big inning appeared to be in store in the seventh when the Shockers loaded the bases with no outs. But WSU produced two runs, the eventual go-ahead run coming on a sacrifice fly from Bret Bascue.

"It's been really hard for us all year to come back in games," said Coy, who hit his fifth home run in the second inning. "We had it in our minds that we were going to come back in this game no matter what it took."

Sossamon's entrance in the fifth inning silenced the Spartans' bats. In his three innings of scoreless work, he struck out three and allowed two baserunners.

In his last eight appearances, Sossamon has allowed two earned runs in 12 2/3 innings.

"Lately I have been working ahead and staying within myself," Sossamon said. "My curveball has done real well. I think that's been my best pitch down the stretch. I didn't have it in the beginning, but now I've found it."

Lightning forced a 1-hour, 21-minute delay between the seventh and eighth innings before Guy came in to close.

The senior ended with a strikeout on a nine-pitch at-bat.

"I wasn't trying to punch him out," Guy said. "I was trying to get him to put a weak swing on it. It got to full count and he kept fouling it off. I finally came back with my curveball and we went for the punch out and it worked."

Combined with Logan Hoch's scoreless effort on Friday, the Shockers' bullpen has combined for seven innings of scoreless baseball in the series, with nine strikeouts and four baserunners.

It's a trend that will likely have to continue for the Shockers to find success.

"If we want to get to where we want to go, we need to be able to come back in games like these," Coy said.

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